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Figuring Out Personality Type Can Help in Choosing Major

Students choose colleges for a variety of reasons. While cost is a key factor in where they enroll, a recent survey shows the most-cited reason for students' decision is the strength of the college's academic major.

But what if you don't know what you want to study? You could go for the most lucrative career and look to the latest numbers comparing lifetime earnings by college major from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

For the floundering high school student searching for some direction in his or her college pursuits, Laurence Shatkin has written a new book, 10 Best College Majors by Your Personality (Jist Works).

Readers start by determining their personality type: realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, or conventional. To help with your soul searching, there is an assessment in the beginning where you mark if you like or dislike a number of activities. After totaling your answers, you are given a score for your primary personality type and secondary personality.

Then you look at the lengthy list of majors that suit your personality type. Once you have a match with certain majors, there is another section to find out more about related jobs, including information about salary, job growth,and number of openings.

Do teenagers really know themselves that well? "Young people have enough experiences that they can get an idea of general personality preference," says Shatkin.

This isn't intended to lock students in, but rather give them some direction in the college search. "It can affect what college you apply to," says Shatkin. "And some colleges are better for one major than another—through resources on campus, laboratories, libraries, and connections with employers."

Sure, students change their major, but that's not necessarily a negative, says Shatkin. Students can learn from their experiences and develop a variety of skills that might be useful as the economy changes. Shatkin also acknowledges that people do change over time—for instance, becoming more social—and suggests they can adjust their career path or find a more social aspect within their field.

When students get their career on track in an early stage in life, they may be more likely to stay focused in school and complete their degree. With the current cost of college, it can be helpful for students to find direction early on so they can get through school more quickly.

To further solidify their major, Shatkin encourages students to talk to people in their potential career field. Also, they can visit them on the job to get a feel for the environment, who they hang out with all day, and if the work matches the textbook version of the field.

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